The former managing director of Konkan Railways feels that there is a strong lobby of bureaucrats who are hand-in-glove with multinational companies in order to get hold of the ACD technology, which is an exclusive patented product of the Railways.
Rajaram Bojji, former managing director of Konkan Railway, never got a chance to implement his revolutionary, indigenous, and government owned anti-collision device (ACD) technology in the Indian Railways. Over the past three-four Rail Budgets, the ministers, including Mamata Banerjee had mentioned about ACDs but nothing much has happened. And this year, it was not even mentioned in the Budget by ousted railway minister Dinesh Trivedi.
In addition, there was statement by the Railways that said the ACD technology does not suit Indian conditions. There are ongoing efforts to buy expensive and unproven technologies from abroad. Peeved off by the derailing of an exclusive patented product of the Railways, Mr Rajaram has written a letter to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court requesting his urgent intervention in the matter. Here is the letter...
Hon'ble Chief Justice of Supreme Court,
May I submit a prayer for your consideration and action as your Honour may deem fit, in the name of those innocent lives lost in train collisions with another train or with vehicles at level crossing gates, purely in public interest and in the interest of the young engineers and scientists of India, who love their nation!
Deaths of hundreds of passengers in train collisions, forced ministry of railways to invest and develop India’s own Anti-collision device technology, because international technologies do not provides solutions for many a peculiar situation when such collisions occur on a railway network.
In 2003 the technology got approved after extensive trials and proving tests for spread over five years and finally cleared for large scale implementation on NF Railway. The results on such a large network were evaluated and confirmed that the technology indeed meets the safety standards prescribed by the ministry, by the ministry themselves. The entire development process followed well laid down international standards for such non-signal but efficient in protecting against collision product.
But it did not have a western country’s certificate, because it is our own Indian product. In the world even today there is no product which can compare with the performance levels of ACD as developed and implemented in 2004-05.
National Geographic conducted a simple confidence test on the technology, by asking the inventor to stand between two colliding trains, and see if he would be saved by the ACD technology. They monitored the loco driver so that he does not apply brakes. Of course the challenge was taken, and the technology performed as promised. This is now a world wide circulated event.
But ministry of railways, after proving the product in 2005, on NF railway, suddenly put the deployment of ACD on all other zonal railways, even though they did go to Parliament and promised to implement, and got allocations too.
The ministry further tried changed the specifications for ACD and restarted the research and development effort—only to block wide use of ACD in 2010.
Strangely, people were getting killed, but still giving some vague reasons, the ministry remained indifferent.
Again when large number of passengers got killed in 2010-2011 in train collisions, instead of using own developed solution, hectic efforts to get imported technology at 10 times the indigenous technology were initiated.
Then suddenly in 2012, an arbitrary statement was made that ACD technology does not suit Indian Railways, but western certified technology alone will be adopted at 10 times the cost.
While the ministry can take such complex technical decision, commonsense dictates, the ministry should be able to explain what is the extra protection that the new technology will give to the passengers as compared to ACD?
If the western technology has better confidence levels because it has western certificate, then at least it should do better than ACD, is a question any one should ask and answer.
By design the ACD provides safety in the entire network of railway, but the western technology, which is promoted, protects less than 10% of network!
In fact it cannot compare at all with ACD in providing safety network—the ministry should publish a comparative chart for the public, when they want to spend ten time more to get one-tenth of protection afforded by ACD.
Then confidence level. The ministry tried to justify that the western imported one is more reliable because it has their certification. If so, then the member of the Railway Board who had the courage to arbitrarily condemn the ACD because he lacks confidence in ACD, should demonstrate his confidence, by conducting similar experiment as done National Geographic, for ACD. That means the officer should stand between tow colliding trains fitted with the imported technology. When one is spending ten times more, in midsection, let him demonstrate this expensive technology meets the safety requirement of Indian Railways. The ACD of India certainly has proven many times in many areas of testing. But not the western technology.
1. Is the individual officer technically misleading the ministry, knowing fully well the facts to favour foreign imports at such high costs, while people are dying on tracks, even though we have the solution is ready, and cleared by the Parliament, criminally culpable for the loss of lives or not? It is not one life, more than 500 lives lost since 2005, which is preventable.
2. What made the ministry to mislead the nation, saying on one hand they are taking steps to implement over all zonal railways and then internally block the process? They too are criminally accountable for loss of lives.
3. How and why inferior technology from west is favoured without comparable tests as compared to ACD?
4. ACD is a product into which more than 1000 engineer-years of effort has been put in, making an impact on world scene, which attracted National Geographic and World Intellectual property Office Geneva too to take note. Now arbitrarily the ministry of railways dumping without giving any justification sends a wrong message to Indian engineers and technologists. However well you perform and get recognised even by respected foreign agencies, but still, even an inferior product from foreign country and costing many orders more, is preferred by the Government of India. Is this what we want?
5. What is the lacunae that is discovered suddenly in one year, while the entire development effort involved continuous guidance and direction form the full Railway Board, not one Board, but starting from 2000 to 2004 the various Boards, extended technical committees, RDSO, even TUV Rhineland Germany, Lloyd’s UK, Electronics testing lab of the government of India were all involved to the full satisfaction of all the stakeholders, and no short cut was adopted at any stage in proving the product. It is matter of facts—all test sheets jointly signed by all concerned. Then how come without any provocation, merely to favour imports, an announcement is made ACD is not suitable? Is the ministry accountable to the Parliament? Are they not required to give cogent explanation?
6. The least one expects is the technical member who spearheaded to condemn ACD from his seat in Railway Board, in favour of "superior" by his definition, western technology should now be able to undergo the same test National Geographic conducted with ACD, but this time with trains fitted with the western technology, which he professes.
Saying it is all technical and so we need not look in to this may not be acceptable by those who lost lives and those likely lose again while the railway ministry is in such self-denial mode.
Personally I have nothing to gain whether ACD is implemented or not. The rights are all with the government, as assigned by me. It is not one man’s work. Thousands of engineer-years both public and private produced this product, making our country proud.
It is indeed a very sad day for India, if with all the checks and balances provided in India’s governance, we keep killing people even after the ministry has completed development of solution, but allow one or two officers in own ministry to sabotage national interest, by making the Ministry look like a fool for having invested and developed successfully own solution and then dump it in favour of a very inferior solution at many orders higher cost, not serving the stated purpose of safety too!
I wonder how justice can remain mute, if passengers’ lives are wantonly sacrificed by those who are responsible for safety of the passengers, after assuring the Parliament too, that they have successfully developed Indian solution and would take quick remedial steps.
Hope India and Indian engineers get justice, your Honour!
M Tech. IRSE (Retd), FIE, FNAE, AMASCE
You may also want to read...
Mamata says yes to anti-collision device, but will it see the light of day?
Is the anti-collision device system being derailed?
B Rajaram to present paper on Gravity Power Towers at 13th APM-ATS in Paris
Nifty trapped in the narrow range of 5,200 and 5,400
The market closed in the red for the fifth week in a row as worries about the global economic growth and domestic concerns weighed on the sentiments. Across the world, lower manufacturing output in China and Eurozone raised worries about the pace of economic growth while rising fiscal deficit and the revenue loss on account of the roll-back in railway passenger fares were the main domestic concerns that led the market 1% lower in the week.
The Sensex settled 104 points lower at 17,362 and the Nifty closed the week at 5,278, a fall of 40 points in the week. The sentiment remains cautious with the market still under pressure. The Nifty is expected to remain trapped in the narrow range of 5,200 and 5,400.
The sectoral gainers were BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 3%) and BSE Healthcare (up 2%) while BSE Metal and BSE Power (down 3% each) were the losers in the week.
The Sensex leaders were Sun Pharma (up 6%), Hindustan Unilever, Hero MotoCorp, ITC and Bharti Airtel (up 3% each). The key losers were Jindal Steel & Power (down 7%), Hindalco Industries, Tata Power (down 6% each), Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki (down 5% each).
The top gainers on the Nifty were Sun Pharma (up 6%), HUL, Hero MotoCorp, ITC and Ambuja Cements (up 3% each). The major losers on the index were Jindal Steel & Power, Hindalco Ind, Reliance Power, IDFC (down 7%) and Reliance Infrastructure (down 6%).
Investors’ disappointment with the Union Budget as it lacked firm reforms to push growth led the market lower on Monday, but bargain hunting after three straight days of decline saw the indices close in the positive on Tuesday. Across-the-board buying and gains in the European markets enabled the domestic market extend its gains on Wednesday.
However, the huge sell-off in the latter part of the session and the rupee hitting fresh two-month lows resulted in the market settling sharply lower on Thursday. Gains in the second half of trade, despite unsupportive global cues, helped the market close nearly 1% higher on Friday.
In a reply to the Rajya Sabha, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said that due to the shortfall from disinvestment, lower tax receipts and high subsidy bill, the fiscal deficit in the current year is estimated to go up to 5.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP) against the original estimate of 4.6%.
The controversial hike in rail passenger fares was rolled back for all classes, except AC 2 Tier and First Class, by the new railway minister Mukul Roy, overturning the decision of his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi, who lost his job on account of his bold proposals. Mr Trivedi had assumed an income of Rs4,000 crore on account of the hike but the reversal of the decision could result in a loss of Rs3,000 crore, officials said.
On the global front, China's flash HSBC purchasing managers index (PMI) for March dropped to 48.1 from 49.6 in February—the fifth consecutive month China's factory activity has contracted. The data raises concerns about export as well as internal demand. Similarly, the Eurozone composite PMI for March fell to 48.7 from 49.3 in February. Most concerning is a sharp drop in factory activity in region's two largest economies—Germany and France.
Children’s Rights in Goa is the first NGO set up specifically to address tourism-related child abuse
Goa’s reputation as a great tourist destination is sometimes sullied by its murky underbelly that makes news headlines occasionally because of the dogged perseverance of activists like Dr Nishtha Desai. Tourism-related paedophilia, child labour, school dropouts, exploitation and trafficking of migrant children are among the many issues addressed by Children’s Rights in Goa (CRG). It is the first not-for-profit organisation in India set up specifically to address tourism-related child abuse.
CRG’s origin dates back to the notorious case of paedophile Freddy Peats who was arrested in 1991 and convicted five years later. There were twin reactions to the case—NGOs thought it was only the ‘tip-of-the-iceberg’, while the government insisted that it was just an aberration. Intrigued, Dr Desai, a PhD in sociology, began to research tourism-related paedophilia. “I wanted to find out what the reality was,” she says. See the Evil: Tourism related paedophilia in Goa, a research, was supported by Vikas Adhyayan Kendra (VAK), an NGO, and conducted with the help of community workers. It examined the prevalence of tourism related child sexual abuse and the modus operandi of travelling sex offenders.
In 2000, Dr Desai joined CRG, a part of VAK which was conducting awareness programmes to urge local communities to understand and report the menace of paedophilia and increase awareness about children’s rights. Dr Desai intensified the drive after joining CRG. In 2001, she launched a concerted campaign called STOP (Stop Tourism-related Paedophilia). To raise awareness about paedophilia in villages required hard work. “Though migrant children were more susceptible, Goan children are also at risk. Many foreigners take accommodation in villages. They call kids, supposedly to teach them English and to engage them in fun activities,” explains Dr Desai.
CRG worked with tourists to conduct a signature campaign and submitted it to the then chief minister, expressing these concerns. “The CM organised a dialogue between the police and NGOs. Handouts were kept at airport counters to warn tourists that sex with a child is a serious offence,” she explained. CRG worked at drafting of the Goa Children’s Act (GCA) along with other NGOs. It was enacted in 2003 and is the first legislation in India to address child abuse issues. Dr Desai says, “A major outcome of the campaign is a shift in the state’s stand from denial of the problem to an acknowledgement of the issue.”
CRG was registered under the Societies Registration Act in 2006 with Dr Desai as its director. It started empowerment and awareness sessions at schools in north Goa, informing students about their rights and how to resist abuse. “While interacting with teachers, we found that some children are very sleepy in school during the tourist season and also bring expensive gifts given by foreigners. It was then that we found how susceptible these kids were to advances by foreigners,” she says.
CRG focuses on increasing awareness on the provisions of GCA, like no child can be denied admission in government-aided schools on the basis of being HIV+ or lack of identification papers. It assists the tourism industry to adopt a child-friendly tourism code provided in the GCA. It runs two activity centres which children can attend after school. CRG has conducted special sensitisation sessions for the Goa Police. “We provide counselling to children and also assist them to seek justice at the Children’s Court,” Dr Desai. One can volunteer for CRG, donate financially or in kind, like toys, picture books, etc, for its activity centres. All donations are eligible for tax exemption under Section 80 (G) of the Income-Tax Act.
CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN GOA
CT-2, Block C, Building A,
Nevio Apartments, 3rd Floor, Angod
Mapusa, Goa 403507
Tel: (91+832) 2263838
Mobile: (91) 9822983336